365 Fifth 2012 Feb galleys dc12 jk color:Layout 1



365 Fifth 2012 Feb galleys dc12 jk color:Layout 1
News and Events of Interest to the Graduate Center Community
February 2012
365 Fifth
(Clockwise from above left) President Kelly,
David Nasaw, Joan Richardson, Allan Atlas,
William Kornblum, Mary Ann Caws, Wayne
Koestenbaum, and Jane Schneider
GC 50th Anniversary Book
To download:
Looking Back with Pride at Fifty Years of GC Scholarship
The year 2011 was a golden one in Graduate Center history. Fifty years prior, in 1961,
Governor Nelson Rockefeller signed legislation creating the City University of New York
(CUNY) and the legislature endorsed the Board of Higher Education’s recommendation
that this newly formed institution be given authority to grant doctoral and postgraduate
professional degrees. Thus the GC was born.
In honor of the GC’s fiftieth anniversary, faculty members, students, staff, and alumni
gathered in Elebash Recital Hall on October 25 to celebrate this major milestone. “We
are here to remember the great scholars of our past that set us on the path of scholarly
achievement,” proclaimed President William P. Kelly before introducing seven current
faculty members who, one at a time, took to the stage to pay tribute to a well-known
David Nasaw, the Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Professor of American History,
reminisced about the “little bespectacled bow-tied smiling man” after whom his chair is
named, lauding Schlesinger’s ability to “write for those in the academy and those outside
it.” Joan Richardson (Prof., GC, Comparative Literature, English, Liberal Studies) spoke
of the influence American writer and literary critic Alfred Kazin had on her as a young
academic, when she first took a seminar he was giving. Allan Atlas (Dist. Prof.,
Brooklyn, Music) spoke eloquently of Barry S. Brook, who founded the GC’s music
program in 1967, brought Atlas to the GC in 1979, and served as the program’s
executive officer until his retirement. Moreover, said Atlas, as founder of RILM
(Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale), the first international bibliography of
music scholarship, Brook “singlehandedly changed how we do musicological research.”
T H E G R AD UAT E C E N T E R C EL E B R AT E S F I F T Y Y E A R S O F E XC EL L E N C E I N H I G H E R E D U CAT I O N 1 9 6 1 – 2 0 1 1
GC 50th Anniversary
Hold the Dates
Community Celebration
Monday, April 16
Benefit Concert
Thursday, April 19
Jane Schneider (Prof. Emerita, GC, Anthropology), coeditor of Articulating Hidden
Histories: Exploring the Influence of Eric R. Wolf, recalled her days at the University of
Michigan where Wolf, an advocate of Marxian perspectives within anthropology, and
ultimately a distinguished professor of anthropology at both Lehman College and the
GC, helped organize one of the country’s first major teach-ins against the Vietnam War.
In honor of Martinican writer, poet, and literary critic Édouard Glissant, who died
last February, Mary Ann Caws (Dist. Prof., GC, Comparative Literature, English,
French) recalled Glissant’s passionate belief in treating translation as an art form. She
then ended her remarks with a reading from her own translations of his work.
Wayne Koestenbaum (Dist. Prof., GC, English) shared his admiration for Eve Kosofsky
Sedgwick, whose critical writings on the ambiguities of sexual identity in fiction helped
create the discipline known as queer studies. By publishing essays with such controversial
titles as “Is the Rectum Straight?” and “How to Bring Your Kids Up Gay,” said
Koestenbaum, Sedgwick took steps that, he felt, helped to “transform a sissy’s shame.”
And finally William Kornblum (Prof., GC, Psychology, Sociology) recalled American
literary and social critic Irving Howe with, appropriately enough, readings from “City
College and Beyond,” a chapter in Howe’s autobiography A Margin of Hope.
At a second anniversary convocation in the spring, GC faculty will describe new
directions of scholarship in their fields. There will also be a benefit concert in Elebash
Recital Hall on April 19, featuring musician and arranger Vince Giordano and his band,
the Nighthawks, playing music of the 1920s and ’30s. For more information see
Marking an Historic Moment for Philosophy: Publication of
Philosophical Troubles, the Collected Papers of Saul Kripke
Saul Kripke
The renowned philosopher and logician Saul Kripke (Dist. Prof., GC, Philosophy)
made a rare public appearance to participate in a two-day conference in September,
sponsored by the Saul Kripke Center, to mark the publication of his Philosophical
Troubles: Collected Papers, Volume 1 (Oxford University Press, 2011).
The book contains a number of Kripke’s previously published essays, widely held to
have changed the landscape of twentieth-century philosophy, together with previously
unpublished material. Some of the unpublished material has been discussed for years
and, while transcriptions and notes have occasionally surfaced, no authoritative text
existed. This material surfaced in the process of organizing the Kripke Center’s archives,
which include recordings of lectures and seminars, lecture notes, manuscripts, and
philosophical and mathematical correspondence dating back to the 1950s. Gary
Ostertag, GC associate professor of philosophy and director of the Kripke Center,
heads the transcription effort and is creating a digital archive of the center’s holdings.
One gem discovered in the archive was a reel-to-reel tape of the lectures on which was
based Kripke’s book Naming and Necessity, widely considered one of the most
important philosophical works of the twentieth century. A digital version of the
recording will be part of a new edition of that work to coincide with the fortieth
anniversary of its initial publication.
CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein started the celebration by welcoming the
large gathering of philosophical authorities, professors, and doctoral students, eager to
see and hear from Kripke and learn about the new publication. Kripke began gaining
notoriety in the field while a high school student in Nebraska, when he wrote the first
in a series of papers that transformed logic and remain canonical works in the field. In
his opening remarks, Chancellor Goldstein recalled how he, as a City College
undergraduate in the early 1960s, first heard of the wunderkind responsible for these
formidable results. After high school, Kripke entered Harvard University, where he
became a junior fellow in his sophomore year; while still an undergraduate, he gave
(L. to r.) Philosophers Graham Priest, Karen
Bennett, Michael Devitt, Saul Kripke, Phillip
Bricker, and Mircea Dumitru
lectures to graduate students at MIT. During the 1960s, Kripke developed a
revolutionary theory of reference in lectures and seminars at various universities,
culminating in lectures delivered at Princeton University in 1970 and subsequently
published as Naming and Necessity. This work sparked a veritable industry of
philosophical commentary and criticism, as did his 1982 book, Wittgenstein on Rules
and Private Language—a work widely thought to have changed the course of
Wittgenstein scholarship. In 2001, Kripke won the Schock Prize in Logic and
Philosophy, which is given by the Swedish Academy of Sciences and which some
consider the equivalent in its field of a Nobel Prize. Before arriving at the Graduate
Center in 2002, he was McCosh Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University, where
he is now professor emeritus; he also served on the faculty of Rockefeller University,
was John Locke Lecturer at Oxford, and was A. D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell.
Joining the discussions on the newer material in Philosophical Troubles were
distinguished philosophers from the Graduate Center, which boasts one of the
strongest U.S. doctoral programs in the field, and from across the United States and
abroad. Among them were Karen Bennett (Cornell), Phillip Bricker (University of
Massachusetts–Amherst), Elizabeth Camp (University of Pennsylvania), David
Chalmers (Australian National University/NYU), Keith DeRose (Yale), Michael Devitt
(GC), Mircea Dumitru (University of Bucharest), Stephen Neale (GC), Christopher
Peacocke (Columbia), Graham Priest (GC), Nathan Salmon (UCSB/GC), Ernest Sosa
(Rutgers), and Stephen Yablo (MIT).
In one exciting presentation, “Kripke on Frege on Sense and Reference,” Chalmers
highlighted Kripke’s analysis of the German mathematician, logician, and philosopher
Gottlob Frege’s highly influential theory of sense and reference. Among the questions
Chalmers addressed were how words refer to objects or individuals, what the
relationship is between a word and its meaning, and how the time of utterance is
incorporated into a sentence’s meaning.
At the conclusion of his presentation, Chalmers put into words what many of
Kripke’s colleagues felt: “It’s an honor to pay tribute to someone who has—for me and
for so many other people in philosophy—been an influence and an inspiration.”
For more information on the Saul Kripke Center and upcoming events, visit:
Mellon Supports Three-Year Project in Curatorial Training
The Graduate Center has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon
Foundation to fund New Initiatives in Curatorial Training, a three-year pilot project in the
Ph.D. Program in Art History. The grant is the most generous received by the Ph.D.
Program in Art History since its founding in 1978. Serving as principal investigator of the
grant is Executive Officer Kevin Murphy (Prof., GC/Brooklyn, Art History).
This highly ranked doctoral program (among the largest in the field with nearly two
hundred students) has a long-standing commitment to training future curators and
other museum and arts professionals. The New Initiatives in Curatorial Training
project will deepen and formalize that commitment while strengthening curatorial
training in the established fields of European and North American art history and,
especially, in the emerging areas—Latin American, Asian, African, pre-Columbian, and
contemporary art.The Mellon Foundation grant will help address the need for more
focused curatorial training by facilitating student fellowships in New York–area
museums, supporting graduate seminars focused on the direct analysis of works of art
in museums and galleries, and funding a yearlong seminar on curatorial practice
culminating in a student-curated exhibition in the Graduate Center’s James Gallery.
President William P. Kelly said of the award: “This new initiative will not only
enhance the already high caliber of the Ph.D. Program in Art History: it will also
reinforce the long-standing connections between this institution and New York City’s
museum community. This project will ensure that we continue to produce scholars and
curators whose cutting-edge work will contribute to the city’s cultural vitality.”
GC Philosophy Ranked among Top Five in Cognitive Science
The GC’s Doctoral Program in Philosophy has been recognized as one of the top five
programs for the study of cognitive science by Brian Leiter’s highly regarded
Philosophical Gourmet Report: http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/philosophical_
The top five programs are, in alphabetical order: City University of New York
Graduate Center; New York University; Rutgers University–New Brunswick; the
University of Arizona; and Washington University, St. Louis. The rankings are based
primarily on perceived quality of the philosophical work of the faculty members.
Twenty-seven philosophers from the around the world sat on the evaluation
committee: Murat Aydede (University of British Columbia), José Luis Bermudez (Texas
A&M), Ned Block (NYU), David Braddon-Mitchell (University of Sydney), Peter
Carruthers (University of Maryland), David Chalmers (University of Arizona), Jonathan
Cohen (University of California–San Diego) , Tim Crane (University of Cambridge),
John Doris (Washington University, St. Louis), Owen Flanagan (Duke University),
Tamar Szabó Gendler (Yale University), Alvin Goldman (Rutgers University), Paul
Griffiths (University of Sydney), David Hilbert (University of Illinois at Chicago), Anne
Jaap Jacobson (University of Houston), Patricia Kitcher (Columbia University), Stephen
Laurence (University of Sheffield), Peter Ludlow (Northwestern University), Edouard
Machery (University of Pittsburgh), Ronald Mallon (University of Utah), Jennifer Nagel
(University of Toronto–Mississauga), David Papineau (King’s College, London), Walter
Sinnott-Armstrong (Duke University), Stephen Stich (Rutgers University), Michael
Strevens (New York University), Michael Tye (University of Texas–Austin), Robert
Wilson (University of Alberta).
$1.8 Million State Grant to RISLUS and Urban Education
The CUNY–New York State Initiative on Emergent Bilinguals (NYSIEB), a new project
of the Research Institute for the Study of Language in Urban Society (RISLUS) and the
Ricardo Otheguy
Ph.D. Program in Urban Education, has been awarded $1.8 million for two years by the
New York State Department of Education. RISLUS is a university institute housed in the
Graduate Center’s Ph.D. Program in Linguistics; the Ph.D. Program in Urban Education
is a leading doctoral degree–granting program in the field of educational research, which
specializes in school and policy issues affecting urban environments.
The initiative addresses the enduring issue of multilingualism in New York State’s
public schools and represents an effort to improve the public school experience and the
academic success of emergent bilingual students. The grant will fund an extensive program
of professional development for school principals around issues of language and
multilingualism, and will promote materials, staffing conditions, policies, programs, and
practices that will improve the educational achievements of emergent bilinguals.
The project has a vital dissemination component designed to document and publicize
existing successful programs. Titled “Best programs and practices for emergent bilinguals in
schools in the State of New York,” the portfolio is intended to influence and improve the
practices of less successful programs. Professor Anthony Picciano, executive officer of the
doctoral program in urban education, will lead this component of the initiative.
Also to be explored and developed are New York State Native Language Arts (NLA)
standards that are aligned with the new Common Core standards, NLA being an
important component in the education of emergent bilinguals.
Ricardo Otheguy (Prof., GC, Linguistics, Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures
and Languages, Urban Education), director of RISLUS, is principal investigator (PI) of
the project; serving as co-PIs are two members of the GC’s doctoral faculty in urban
education, Professor Ofelia García and Associate Professor Kate Menken; and serving as
acting project director is Nelson Flores, a doctoral candidate finishing a dissertation on
the history of U.S. educational language policy. Moreover, eight CUNY faculty
members from five colleges—Brooklyn, City, Hunter, Lehman, and Queens—all with
expertise in the field of bilingual education, will work as associate investigators in the
initiative, and a number of GC graduate students in urban education and linguistics
will have the opportunity to serve as research assistants.
Beckman and Henry Murray Awards to Michelle Fine
Maria Elena Torre and Michelle Fine at the
Beckman Award ceremonies
Michelle Fine (Dist. Prof., GC, Psychology, Urban Education) is the 2011 recipient of
both the Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award and the Henry Murray Award. The Beckman
Award recognizes educators in the preferred fields of psychology, medicine, and law who
have inspired their students to create an organization which has demonstrably conferred a
benefit on the community at large or who have established a lasting basis, concept,
procedure, or movement of comparable benefit. The award specifically recognizes Professor
Fine and her students for creating the Public Science Project (PSP), which, in its
dedication to advancing a democratic social science for the public good, has performed
transformational and inspirational work in the community. Now run by Fine and
psychology alumna Dr. Maria Elena Torre, PSP has for more than ten years collaborated
with communities to design research and practice that examines the impact of policy and
structural injustice. For more about PSP and its programs, see
http://www.publicscienceproject.org. Fine will receive the award, which carries with it
substantial financial recognition, at the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia, in January.
The Henry Murray Award is granted by the Society for Personality and Social
Psychology (SPSP). In announcing the award, SPSP declared: “Perhaps more than any
other practicing research psychologist, Professor Fine has responded to Henry Murray’s call
for a psychology that studies the complexity of persons and of the socio-cultural
environments in which they develop.”
Raymond Erickson’s Work on Religious Tolerance in 18thCentury Saxony Awarded a Mellon Emeritus Fellowship Grant
Raymond Erickson
Raymond Erickson (Prof. Emer., Queens, Music) has won an Emeritus Fellowship from
the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which awarded a $42,700 grant to the Graduate
Center to support his proposal “Tolerance, Jews, and the Early Enlightenment in
Saxony: The Witness of Leipzig Theologians.”
Erickson, a noted Bach authority, was looking several years ago for information on
Jews in Leipzig around 1724, when Bach first composed and performed the St. John
Passion there. In the course of his research he learned of a 1714 Gutachten, or learned
opinion, by the dean and other theological faculty of Leipzig University that strongly
defended Jews against the long-standing accusation that they killed Christian children in
order to use their blood in Jewish rituals. Surprised by the existence of such a document
in an area and among churchmen with a long history of anti-Judaism, he sought out a
copy of the document in the Dresden State Archives, and transcribed and translated it.
An article on this appears in the current Musical Quarterly (see http://mq.oxfordjournals.
The one-year fellowship will allow Erickson to finish a critical edition and translation
of the Gutachten, with extensive annotation, passages from sources cited in the
Gutachten, and essays dealing with the broader cultural context.
The Emeritus Fellowships support the scholarly activities of outstanding retired
faculty members in the humanities and humanistic social sciences. The Andrew W.
Mellon Foundation invites institutions to nominate applicants, after which a panel of
distinguished scholars selects a group of finalists. Other GC recipients in recent years
have included Samuel L. Leiter (Theatre), Jane M. Ross (Art History), and Leo Treitler
(Music), who won two such awards.
Max Planck Institute Commits Three Years of Staff, Funds for
Setha Low’s Working Group on Public Space and Diversity
Setha Low
Setha Low (Prof., GC, Anthropology) will direct a Working Group on Public Space and
Diversity with Darshan Vigneswaran (Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute), for which
the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity has committed
funds and personnel to support events and pilot studies for three years. The group will
study the increasingly complex forms of migration and mobility, ethnic and cultural
affiliation, and religious aspiration that determine how contemporary public spaces are
built, regenerated, controlled, and experienced. Patterned on the success of the institute’s
working groups on health and markets, this group will draw together leading scholars to
develop collaborations and publications in an increasingly important area of diversity
research. It is expected that this investment will lead to a longer-term, multifaceted
research program focused, in particular, on forging new paths through the comparative
analysis of less studied public spaces in Eastern Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
Urban Research Center’s Wall Street Report Makes News
Richard Alba
More minorities and women are working on Wall Street, but white men remain
dominant when it comes to the financial rewards available there, according to “The
Progress and Pitfalls of Diversity on Wall Street,” a new report released by GC’s Center
for Urban Research (CUR). Prepared by Richard Alba (Dist. Prof., GC, Sociology) and
Joseph Pereira, director of the CUNY Data Service, the report is available for
downloading at http://www.urbanresearch.org/news/new-report-progress-and-pitfalls-ofdiversity-on-wall-street. The findings have grabbed the attention of the New York Times
white-men/); the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/02/
wall-street-diversity-_n_1126496.html?ref=business); NY1, where Errol Louis
interviewed Professor Alba on December 5 for “Inside City Hall” (http://www.ny1.com/
and the Wall Street Journal, with Sumathi Reddy’s article “Report Parses Wall Street
Workforce” on December 2.
CLACLS Reports Major Shifts in NYC’s Latino Population
Laird Bergad
Dramatic changes are taking place in New York City’s Latino population, according to
the annual report of the Center for Latin American, Caribbean & Latino Studies
(CLACLS), which is headed by Laird Bergad (Dist. Prof., Lehman, History). The
extensive report makes use of the 2010 census to examine demographic, social, and
economic changes between 1990 and 2010 and documents a fundamental
transformation among the city’s Latinos, who increased from 24 percent of the city’s
total population in 1990 to nearly 29 percent in 2010.
The Puerto Rican share declined in absolute and relative terms, from 49 percent of all
Latinos in 1990 to 31 percent in 2010, while Dominicans increased from 20 to 25
percent of all Latinos and are poised to surpass Puerto Ricans in absolute terms within
the next decade. Mexicans were the fastest-growing Latino national subgroup, now 14
percent of the city’s Hispanic population.
The report, which showed Latinos had the lowest high school and college graduation
rates of all the city’s racial/ethnic groups and the lowest median household incomes, also
discusses employment, health insurance coverage, and language. It is available for
downloading at http://web.gc.cuny.edu/lastudies.
From the Team That Gave Us CUNY’s Academic Commons
Comes “Commons in a Box” for Academic Social Networks
Matthew K. Gold
With the launching of the CUNY Academic Commons (http://commons.gc.cuny.edu/)
in 2009, hosted by the GC’s IT Department, the diverse twenty-four-campus City
University of New York system has its own academic social network through which
CUNY faculty members, administrators, staff, and graduate students can share research
and participate in cross-campus scholarly collaborations. Now, the team that developed
the Commons is developing a similar tool to help other organizations to mount their
own commons platforms, starting with the Modern Language Association (MLA).
Leading this effort and directing the CUNY Academic Commons is Matthew K.
Gold, who says, “Commons-style networks can help institutions penetrate institutional
silos, mitigate the effects of geographical distance, and produce collaborative, publicfacing scholarship that can help demonstrate the value of intellectual life at a time when
funding for higher education is increasingly being called into question.” Gold is a faculty
member in the Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Certificate Program and serves as
advisor to the provost for master’s programs and digital initiatives, in addition to being
an assistant professor of English at NYC College of Technology.
What Gold and his team are working on is a free software package, titled Commons
in a Box, which will provide the tools for outside educational institutions, scholarly
associations, and nonprofit organizations to establish a similar virtual space in which to
network. The project is being built on the popular open-source platforms WordPress,
BuddyPress, and MediaWiki. Spearheading the project with Gold is Lead Developer of
the CUNY Academic Commons and co-PI on the Sloan grant, Boone B. Gorges;
George Otte, university director of academic technology, is providing additional
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has pledged generous support. “CUNY has been a
leader in developing an effective, innovative social network that allows scholars to
connect, collaborate, and share ideas,” said Josh Greenberg, director of the Sloan
Foundation’s digital information technology program. “I’m excited to see them make
this platform available to other institutions in a way that is free, easy to implement, and
simple to modify. This project has the potential to bring the benefits CUNY is already
experiencing to countless other communities.”
In the project’s initial phase, the Commons team will be working with the Modern
Language Association to create an MLA Commons for the association’s 30,000-plus
members. The association, which has been exploring new ways to help promote
members’ activities, established an office of scholarly community in early 2011. “The
MLA is deeply grateful for the generosity and the community spirit of the CUNY
Academic Commons team, and we look forward to working with them in developing a
vibrant platform to support member communication,” says Kathleen Fitzpatrick,
director of scholarly communication at the MLA.
For more about Commons in a Box, see http://news.commons.gc.cuny.edu/2011/
11/22/the-cuny-academic-commons-announces-the-commons-in-a-box-project/. For an
outsider’s perspective of its merits, see the blog post about it featured on the Inside
Higher Ed website (http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/hack-higher-education/
Finances Emphasized at President’s Community Meetings
October 5
Addressing first the GC’s financial outlook, President William Kelly offered GC
members some critical numbers on this year’s budget at the first community meeting of
the academic year on October 5.
From 2008 to the end of the 2010–11 fiscal year on June 30, the GC’s budget
suffered a permanent drop in tax-levy revenue of $6,377,600. Kelly reminded faculty,
staff, and students that the GC was still in the woods as “our current budget calls for an
additional cut of $2,606,600.”
To avoid furloughs and potential layoffs, the administration continues to focus on
making cuts in nonpersonnel budget items and IT and not filling GC positions that
become vacant. These austerity measures as well as other efforts to control the budget
have safeguarded student financial aid and health care, all without impeding the
scholarly efforts of CUNY’s doctoral programs.
Yet the news is far from bleak, Kelly declared. In the spring, New York State passed
legislation that ensures stable funding for CUNY and SUNY for the next five years, a
nationally unprecedented measure. CUNY now has a level of fiscal stability that will
enable its colleges to plan for the future. Further, in each of the next five years, “modest
tuition increases” totaling $1,500 will undergird new investment in full-time faculty
lines and student services. “This is a time to think about our future,” Kelly continued.
“In the past, we’ve set a number of benchmarks, having to do with fellowship support,
student health insurance, tuition remission for students who teach at CUNY, faculty
renewal, new research opportunities, and a residence facility. All of those goals have been
met, and we now have some level of budgetary certainty to embolden our efforts.”
In his concluding remarks, the president advised community members not to allow
themselves to be consumed by financial worry but rather to celebrate one of the most
important moments in the GC’s history: “This is our fiftieth anniversary!” he declared,
adding that this academic year is “a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the Graduate
Center’s distinguished history.”
November 30
After briefly reporting on the budgetary matters in the second of four scheduled GC
community meetings for the academic year, President William Kelly addressed concerns
about the presence of additional members of our security staff on November 21 and on
a number of days thereafter. Reiterating themes from his November 25 letter to the
community, Kelly noted that the intent had not been to intimidate community
members from assembling but to ensure that if the need for enhanced security arose, the
staff “would be members of our community, not people whom we do not know and
who do not know us.”
On the matter of the newly implemented tuition policy, Kelly provided “information
that has not made its way throughout the Graduate Center,” specifically that CUNY’s
price tag—regardless of the tuition increase—at $5,516 for full-time undergraduate tuition
and fees is less than half of what is charged by other public universities. Furthermore,
despite cuts to the state’s budget and the nation’s financial woes, CUNY—without having
to turn to layoffs and furloughs to free up already tight revenue streams—is providing a
tuition-free education to “58 percent of full-time undergraduates,” while an additional
170,000 students receive financial aid amounting to the significant total of $1.1 billion.
The president ended the meeting by reminding community members that “what
should concern us in these contentious times is preserving mutual respect while ensuring
the capacity for peaceful dissent.”
Doctoral Faculty Meeting Hears How Societies Organize
Ruth Wilson Gilmore
On November 2, President William Kelly and Provost and Senior Vice President Chase
F. Robinson (Dist. Prof., GC, History), along with Martin J. Burke (Assoc. Prof.,
Lehman, History), chair of the doctoral faculty policy committee, gave a warm welcome
to new faculty members joining the Graduate Center’s doctoral programs, from the
“proverbial anthropology program to the equally proverbial urban education program,”
said Robinson.
Several new faculty members in attendance gave brief reports on their current
research. Among these were Gillian U. Bayne from Lehman College, joining the urban
education program; May May Leung from Hunter’s School of Public Health, joining the
public health program; and Soon Ae Chun from the College of Staten Island, joining
the computer science program.
Audience members then turned their attention to Ruth Wilson Gilmore, a professor
of geography in the earth and environmental sciences doctoral program, who presented
a talk on “Big Things: Landscape, State Form, and the Infrastructure of Feeling.” Her
discussion focused on how certain societies organize and reorganize themselves on a
cultural and political stage. She is particularly drawn, she explained, to the question of
prison infrastructure, an interest that began when she was researching the ways in which
economic and political forces over the past thirty years created a massive incarceration
system in the United States, which is currently responsible for 25 percent of the world’s
total prisoners although it has only 5 percent of the world’s human population.
Professor Gilmore joined the Graduate Center in fall 2010. She is known as an
activist as well as an intellectual and served as president of the American Studies
Association from 2010–11. In Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in
Globalizing California (2007), she examined how political and economic forces
produced California’s prison boom. Her wide-ranging research interests also include
race and gender, labor and social movements, uneven development, and the African
Faculty Honors
Randolph L. Braham
Raquel Chang-Rodríguez
David Harvey
Alva Noë
David Savran
Randolph L. Braham (Dist. Prof. Emer., GC, Political Science), director of the
Rosenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies and a Holocaust survivor, was awarded the
Medium Cross of the Order of the Republic of Hungary at ceremonies opening the
Randolph L. Braham Library and Information Center of Budapest’s Holocaust
Memorial Centre.
Raquel Chang-Rodríguez (Dist. Prof., City, Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures
and Languages) was awarded a doctorate honoris causa by the National University of
Athens, Greece.
David Harvey’s (Dist. Prof., GC, Anthropology, Earth and Environmental Sciences,
History) The Enigma of Capital and the Crises of Capitalism (Oxford University Press,
2010) has been selected a Guardian Book of the Year by Paul Mason because “it remains
the most complete Marxist attempt to situate the global crisis in the context of the
irresolvable tensions of a system based on ‘self-expanding money.’” The book was also
winner of the 2010 Isaac and Tamara Deutscher Book Prize.
Alva Noë (Dist. Prof., GC, Philosophy) published “Art and the Limits of
Neuroscience” in Opinionator, a New York Times exclusive online commentary, on
December 4: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/04/art-and-the-limits-ofneuroscience/.
Tracey Revenson (Prof., GC, Psychology), associate editor of the Annals of Behavioral
Medicine and a fellow of the American Psychology Association and the Society for
Behavioral Medicine, gave a keynote speech at the European Health Psychology Society
annual meeting on the island of Crete on September 21.
Alfred Rosenberger (Prof., Brooklyn, Anthropology, Earth and Environmental
Sciences) and his research team discovered the skeleton of a possibly extinct crocodile,
among several other fossil surprises, in freshwater caves of the Dominican Republic. The
discoveries were featured in a National Geographic video:
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/ news/2011/09/pictures/110927-crocodile-fossilsfound-underwater-cave/#/crocodile-fossil-found-dominican-republic-snout_40965_600
x450.jpg. Recent anthropology graduate Siobhan Cooke (2011), who is serving in a
postdoctoral position at Duke University, was part of Rosenberger’s team.
David Savran (Vera Mowry Roberts Chair in American Theatre, Dist. Prof., GC,
English, Theatre) will give three Messinger Lectures at Cornell University. Savran also
won a Kurt Weill Prize for the chapter “Fascinating Rhythm” in his book
Highbrow/Lowdown: Theatre, Jazz, and the Making of the New Middle Class (University
of Michigan Press, 2009).
Karen Strassler (Asst. Prof., Queens, Anthropology) has been awarded this year’s
Gregory Bateson Prize by the Society for Cultural Anthropology for her book Refracted
Visions: Popular Photography and National Modernity in Java (Duke University Press,
Ida Susser (Prof., Hunter, Anthropology, Public Health) has been awarded the Eileen
Basker Memorial Prize from the Society for Medical Anthropology for her book AIDS,
Sex and Culture: Global Politics and Survival in Southern Africa (Wiley-Blackwell 2009).
Ida Susser
Doctoral Faculty Appointments
The following is a list of appointments to the doctoral faculty from September 9 to
December 9. Listed after each name are the faculty member’s home college or home
institution and fields of specialization.
Siona Wilson, CSI: History of photography, contemporary art, feminist theory.
Dorothy Neave-DiToro, GC: Hearing aids, aural rehabilitation, pediatric audiology.
Matilda Wissner, Adjunct, Hunter: Central auditory processing disorders, auditory
evoked potentials and amplification.
Yolanda A. Small, York: quantum mechanical/molecular mechanical modeling and
simulations, electronic structure methods using Gaussian-based Density Function
Jessica M. Rothman, Hunter: Nutritional ecology, primate ecology and behavior,
feeding biology. Lei Xie, Hunter: Molecular, cellular, and developmental biology.
Rachel Kousser, Brooklyn: Greek sculpture, Roman reception of Greek art, ancient
iconoclasm. Lawrence M. Kowerski III, Hunter: Greek poetry.
Peter Hitchcock, Baruch: Cultural theory, world literature, postcolonialism, Marxism.
Huewon Chung, John Jay: Quantitative methods. Robert Garot, John Jay:
Immigration, deviance, law and society, sociology of education. Nancy G. La Vigne,
Adjunct, Urban Institute: Oversight, criminal justice program evaluation, public affairs,
corrections. Jeremy R. Porter, Brooklyn: Social theory, ecological criminology,
quantitative methods/statistics. Richard W. Schwester, John Jay: Power of attorney,
public administration, political science, government, organizational theory and
management. Lucia Trimbur, John Jay: Race and racism, gender, urban sociology, social
theory, and sociology of crime. Michael D. White, Adjunct, Arizona State University:
Race, ethnicity, policing, police misconduct, issues and controversies in policing.
Gregory D. O’Mullan, Queens: Environmental microbiology, water resource
management. Ashaki A. Rouff, Queens: Aqueous geochemistry, environmental
Andrew M. Rosenberg, Queens: Prosody/intonation, computational linguistics, speech,
machine learning.
Adhijit Champanerkar, CSI: Hyperbolic 3-manifolds, knot theory. Alex Chigogidze,
CSI: Topology. Gunter Fuchs, CSI: Mathematical logic, set theory, forcing and large
cardinals, inner model theory. Olga Kharlampovich, Hunter: Group theory, algebra,
logic. Ilya S. Kofman, CSI: Knot theory, geometric topology. Joseph Maher, CSI:
Geometric topology. Jesenko Vukadinovic, CSI: Analysis, applied mathematics.
Jonathan Jacobs, John Jay: Ethics, metaethics, medieval philosophy, early modern
philosophy, criminal justice ethics.
Yocheved Bensinger, Adjunct, CSI: Motor learning, high-risk infants. Boris Gilzon,
Adjunct, CSI: Certified hand therapist, orthopedic specialist. Kristin Hansen, Adjunct,
CSI: Orthopedics. Robyn M. Lugo, Adjunct, CSI: Pulmonary rehabilitation.
Ming Xia, CSI: International relations, comparative politics, American politics.
Mary M. Cavanaugh, Hunter: Family violence, sexual abuse, forensics, randomized trials.
To the GC
From September through November 2011, the Graduate Center received twenty-nine
grants totaling $2,238,863. The name(s) of the principal investigator(s), awarding
agency, and project, and the amount of each award are listed below.
Joshua Brown (Center for Media and Learning), American Social History
Productions, Inc., “Funded Wages,” $49,428. Joshua Brown, Donna Thompson Ray
(American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning), National
Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), “Visualizing U.S. History: The American Civil
War,” $169,894. Helene Clark, Michelle Fine (Center for Human Environments),
Helmsley Charitable Trust, “Evaluation of Helmsley Trust Education Program,”
$201,585. Kenneth Erickson, Leonard Markovitz (Political Science), Q
Corporation/Comparative Politics, “Journal of Comparative Politics,” $38,846. Howard
Everson (Center for the Advanced Study of Education (CASE)), Hunter
College/National Science Foundation (NSF), “MSP in NYC 2 – A New Partnership to
Transform Urban Secondary School Mathematical and Science Experiences,” $199,505.
Howard Everson, Bert Flugman (CASE), New Mexico Advanced Programs Initiative,
Inc., “AP Performance in New Mexico,” $5,000. Michelle Fine (Center for Human
Environments), Helmsley Charitable Trust, “College Access/Youth Leadership,”
$115,699; Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, “College-Ready
Communities,” $15,000; El Puente, “Evaluation of El Puente’s AWAKE Project,”
$30,000; El Puente of Williamsburg, Inc., “Evaluation of El Puente – Year Two,”
$60,000. Bert Flugman, Deborah Hecht (CASE), Hofstra University, “Research and
Evaluation of: Simulation and Modeling Technology Education,” $80,000. Matthew
Gold (Institutional), Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, “Commons-in-a-Box,” $107,950.
Roger Hart (Center for Human Environments), World Vision, “The Article 15 Project,”
$72,950; UNICEF, “Education in Emergencies/Transitional Learning Space in
Emergency of Post-Crisis Transition,” $55,000. Bruce Homer (CASE), NYU/IES, ED,
“Molecules and Minds: Simulations for Chemistry Education,” $64,952. Jonathan Katz
(Music), U.S. Department of Education, “Jacob Javits Fellowship,” $43,975. Glenis
Long (Speech–Language–Hearing Sciences), Science Application International
Corporation, “Contaminating Effects on OAE Evaluation,” $7,084. Gita
Martohardjono (Research Institute for the Study of Language in Urban Society
(RISLUS)), New York City Department of Education, “English Language Learners
Professional Development Services for the NYC Department of Education,” $61,492.
John Mollenkopf, Steven Romalewski (Center for Urban Research), Hagedorn
Foundation, “Mapping Demographic Change on Long Island,” $78,000. Leith
Mullings, Karen G. Williams (Anthropology), HUD, “From Coercion to Consent?:
Governing the Formerly Incarcerated in the 21st Century United States,” $24,997.
Tracey Revenson (Psychology/Social-Personality), Mount Sinai School of Medicine,
“Breathing Interventions for Hot Flashes in PrCa Survivors on Hormone Therapy,”
$12,749. Gail Smith (Institutional), NSF, “SBES Alliance – CUNY/Michigan AGEP
Alliance,” $135,000. Lisa Tannenbaum (Art History), U.S. Department of Education,
“Jacob Javits Fellowship,” $43,975. Katherine Verdery (Anthropology), HUD, “From
Squatters to Homeowners: Civic Engagement, Property, and Social Networks,” $13,742.
Suzanne Wasserman (Gotham Center for New York City History), New York City
Department of Education, “Leadership and Change: Turning Points in American
History,” $88,895. Thomas Weiss (Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies),
Government of the United Kingdom, “GCR2P Government of Great Britain,” $81,700;
Government of Netherlands, “GCR2P,” $337,470. Kimberly Paige Young (Comparative
Literature), U.S. Department of Education, “Jacob Javits Fellowship,” $43,975.
To Faculty at the Colleges
Maria Hartwig (Assoc. Prof., John Jay, Psychology/Forensic), Federal Bureau of
Investigation/High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, “Improving Credibility
Judgments in Intelligence Interrogations,” $125,000. Margaret Wallace (Assoc. Prof.,
John Jay, Biochemistry, Criminal Justice), National Institute for Justice–Applied Research
and Development in Forensic Science, one year, “Development of an Immuno-Magnetic
Procedure for the Separation of Spermatozoa from Vaginal Epithelial Cells,” $196,720.
Cathy S. Widom (Dist. Prof., John Jay, Criminal Justice, Psychology), National Institute
of Justice, “Thirty-Year Follow-Up of the Cycle of Violence,” $311,967; and, with Dr.
Linda M. Brzustowicz (Rutgers), Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child
Health and Human Development, “Genetic, Behavioral, and Psychosocial Factors
Linking Childhood Maltreatment to Health and Disease,” $1,346,287.
How Science Solves Mysteries Like Superconductivity
William Bialek
“Mercury has passed into a new state, which on account of its extraordinary electrical
properties may be called the superconductive state.” So wrote Dutch physicist Heike
Kamerlingh Onnes in his notebook on April 8, 1911—just over 100 years ago—when he
discovered that the electrical resistance in a solid mercury wire immersed in liquid helium
suddenly vanished when cooled to a temperature approaching absolute zero.
It took about another fifty years before John Bardeen, Leon Cooper, and J. Robert
Schrieffer developed a plausible theory of superconductivity, known as the BCS theory
after their initials, which explained the underlying mechanism of this remarkable
phenomenon. For this they shared the 1972 Nobel Prize in Physics. In celebration of the
original discovery’s centennial, Nobelist Leon Cooper was welcomed to the stage of
Proshansky Auditorium on November 14 for a talk titled “Superconductivity and Other
Insoluble Problems: Are There Limits to Scientific Understanding?”
“The intellectual outgrowth of what Cooper did—and of his style of reasoning—has
implications that are still felt in many places,” declared William Bialek, GC visiting
presidential professor of physics and director of the Initiative for the Theoretical Sciences
(ITS @ the Graduate Center), which sponsored the event. “His style of reasoning has
literally changed how we look at the world.”
In explaining the thinking that went into the BCS theory, Cooper said that he,
Bardeen, and Schrieffer were guided by Albert Einstein’s advice to “make everything as
simple as possible, but not simpler.” Curiously, not even Einstein had been able to explain
superconductivity, as Cooper was later to learn. Another to fail in the attempt was Nobel
Prize winner Felix Blochhad, who once joked, out of frustration, that “every theory of
superconductivity can be disproved.”
Cooper emphasized that, whether or not humans’ potential for scientific
understanding is boundless, science history is filled with accounts of “old limits that have
turned out not to be limits at all.” As one of many examples, Cooper pointed out that the
chemical composition of stars was once an “inaccessible mystery.” Now, thanks to
spectroscopy, he noted, “We know more about stars than about the center of the Earth.”
Because he is drawn to big questions, said Cooper, he ultimately made the decision to
return to his roots in biology, rather than going on to write increasingly technical papers
about superconductivity. As director of Brown University’s Center for Neural Science,
Cooper’s current research revolves around brain networks and the biological basis of
memory. To him, the brain and memory processes remain the largest uncharted “next
frontier,” he said—an area in which a myriad of “insoluble problems” remain.
—Jackie Glasthal
(L. to r.) Dan Plesch, Robert Jenkins, Thomas
Weiss, audience during Q&A.
Origins of the UN: Earlier Than You Might Have Thought
History books tell us that the United Nations was founded in 1945, the brainchild of
Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, at the end of World War II. However, at
a Ralph Bunche forum on November 3, Dan Plesch, director at the Centre for
International Studies and Diplomacy at the University of London, argued an alternative
narrative on November 3 when he presented his book, America, Hitler, and the UN: How
the Allies Won World War II and Forged Peace (I. B. Tauris, 2011).
“As far as I know, the January 5, 1942, Washington Post front page is the first time we
get the UN initials,” said Plesch. During that first week of 1942, twenty-six nations
signed a charter vowing to rid Europe of Hitler and his Axis powers.
Thereafter, up to 1945, the UN was cited more than four thousand times in the New
York Times, Plesch reported, and an “avalanche of material” about the UN dominated
the front pages of newspapers distributed throughout the United States, from the
Brownsville Herald in Texas to the Brainerd Daily Dispatch in Minnesota. A burgeoning
UN was also the focus of newsreels that publicized the organization’s first international
conference in Moscow in 1943, where foreign ministers pledged to “fight the war and
win peace.” According to press reports, this was the “first world order of an international
body of peace that would preserve human rights.”
In one of his most compelling examples of a pre-1945 politically active and powerwielding UN, Plesch pointed to the establishment of international agencies led by UN
signatories—the UN Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) and the
United Nations War Crimes Commission (UNWCC), which predated the postwar
Nuremberg trials in trying Nazis for the genocide of Jews.
However, Plesch declared, the UN was not just a “political answer to the Nazi new
order,” not just “a military name or synonym for the Allies,” but a solution that helped
institutionalize global peace efforts upon which current UN principles and agencies were
Joining Plesch in the program “70 Years Later: The UN as a Political Response to Pearl
Harbor” were discussants Robert Jenkins (Prof., Hunter, Political Science) and Thomas
G. Weiss (Pres. Prof., GC, Political Science). Weiss, who also served as moderator, is
director of the GC’s Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies. To access Plesch’s
digital archives on World War II and the UN, visit: http://www.cisd.soas.ac.uk/index
—Rachel Ramírez
West Bank Banking for a Changing Palestinian Economy
Jihad Al Wazir
Just days before Palestine submitted its historic bid for state recognition to the United
Nations in mid-September, Dr. Jihad Al Wazir, governor and chairman of the board of
the Palestine Monetary Authority (PMA), appeared at the GC to discuss “The European
Union, the Emerging Palestinian State and the Role of the Central Bank” at an event
sponsored by the GC’s European Union Studies Center and the European Union Center
of New York.
Stressing that he is neither a government official nor an expert on the EU, and that
he would prefer to “stay away from politics, as all Central Bankers should,” Al Wazir did
offer up a brief overview of Europe’s official relationship with Palestine, which
commenced in 1980 with the Venice Declaration. That document, issued by the ninemember economic committee of the European Economic Community (EEC), said Al
Wazir, “talked about legitimate rights of Palestinians for safety and security,” adding “it
has had many iterations since.”
While insistent that Palestinians generally agree “that negotiation is the only way to
reach a Palestinian state,” the governor added pointedly, “we have been engaged in
discussion since 1991.” In the meantime, he made clear, Palestinians must find ways to
conduct trade in what at times can feel like a hostile environment.
“Not only are surplus Israeli goods dumped into Palestine,” noted Al Wazir, but “if
you’re a Palestinian biscuit maker, your import costs are higher because of the fees you
have to pay to the state of Israel.” On top of that, he added, “security measures” have
been put in place, making it that much more difficult for Palestinian businesspeople to
deliver their goods to market in a timely fashion.
Equally complex is the multiple currency system that Palestinians, as stateless people,
have no choice but to use. Without their own currency, they trade instead in euros,
American dollars, Jordanian dinars, and Israeli shekels, which are used most often in dayto-day cash transactions. In addition, because Palestinians in war-torn Gaza must worry
about whether they will have access to cash at ATM machines when bombings occur, the
PMA has actually asked the area’s forty-five bank branches to install electric generators.
Despite all this, Al Wazir boasted, the PMA, which receives funding from both the
United States and the European Union, has been commended for its efficiency and
improved practices. “We have one of the best credit unions globally,” he stated proudly,
enabling the PMA to increase lending to Palestinians. And, despite inescapable political
tensions in the region, “We have a good relationship with the Bank of Israel because we
are independent.”
For more about the European Union Studies Center and its upcoming events, go to
—Jackie Glasthal
“9/11 Plus Ten”: How New York City Memorializes Its Loss
It’s been over a decade since the disaster. The World Trade Center, a sixteen-acre site of
devastation, has been slowly but surely transforming into a civic memorial. Two
architects integral to this transformation spoke at the Graduate Center on September 19:
Daniel Libeskind, commissioned in 2003 as master plan architect for the entire site, and
Michael Arad, commissioned in 2004 to design the memorial.
Libeskind explained that Arad’s memorial plaza and his own “Wedge of Light,”
which, because of the way the project’s buildings are aligned, will direct sunlight onto
the memorial on each 9/11 anniversary, would remind visitors of those who perished.
He described how vital to the site were symbols of the nation’s strength and endurance.
Now an American citizen, he told the audience about the tremendous inspiration the
United States provided when he was a teenage Polish immigrant, which led to his
including in his design the 1,776-foot spire on the tallest of five towers surrounding the
(L. to r.) Katherine Carl, Daniel Libeskind,
Michael Arad
site and the symbolic architectural components of the slurry wall and bedrock, which
had withstood the terrorist acts.
Arad, an Israeli American, revealed that he wanted his memorial “Reflecting
Absence,” which had been dedicated the previous week, a decade after the disaster, “to
become a living part of the city as well as a profound site for memory.” His final design
of two pools demarcating the outlines of the fallen twin towers followed his imagining
two square voids in the Hudson River and his empathetic reaction to New Yorkers who
gathered around Washington Square Park’s fountain to mourn the dead. The names of
the almost three thousand victims, including those who died at the Pentagon and near
Shanksville, Pennsylvania, surround the footprints of the twin towers, and visitors can
come together, support one another, and mourn while the waterfalls mask the sounds of
the city.
The panel on “Memory Foundations,” moderated by deputy director of the Center
for the Humanities and James Gallery curator Katherine Carl, was part of “9/11 Plus
Ten: New York City in the Aftermath of September 11th,” a daylong event which
featured two other panels: “Muslim Citizens in the Wounded City” and “9/11’s
Aftermath: Health, Safety, Change.” The event was organized by Susan V. Opotow
(Prof., John Jay, Criminal Justice, Psychology) and cosponsored by the social/personality
subprogram of the GC’s Ph.D. Program in Psychology, the Center for the Humanities,
and other CUNY centers and programs.
—Rachel Ramírez
Speaking Out Strongly in Support of Public Higher Education
Michelle Fine
Heightened concern about the future of public higher education drew a broad cross
section of the CUNY community—professors, undergraduates, graduate students,
university staff, and union representatives—to Elebash Recital Hall on October 7 for a
conference on “Defending Public Higher Education.” Setting the tone was a fiery
keynote address by Michelle Fine (Dist. Prof., GC, Psychology, Urban Education,
Liberal Studies M.A.).
“The assault on public education has been a long, bloody, and contested thread in
the fabric of American educational history,” she charged as she described the fearsome
toll that the country’s fiscal crisis was taking on universities like CUNY—most notably
the University of California. Faculty and staff, along with middle- to low-income
students, she maintained, were staging walkouts and echoing the cries of “occupiers” to
protest the damage to affordable higher education.
Tracing the history of CUNY, in light of what she called its “unshakable
commitment” to provide a free high-quality higher education to all New York citizens,
Fine explained how the city’s near brush with bankruptcy in 1975 forced the university
(L. to r.) Stephen Brier, Frances Fox Piven
to impose tuition charges. Thirty-six years later, she sees the CUNY of today suffering
from severe budget cuts and fewer investments in its university’s academic programs.
Among the villains in this scenario are for-profit colleges and big businesses that, Fine
declared, “sneak away with public funding”; federal aid to for-profit colleges, she said,
has ballooned from $4.6 billion in 2000 to $26 billion today.
Mincing no words, Fine indicted “privatizers and austerity butchers” who, she
charged, were “now knocking on the doors of public higher education, having cleaned
the carcass of K-12 education.” She went on to add, “Today we witness the mugging of
already marginalized students of color and poverty in diminished access to Pell grants,
cuts in financial aid, rises in tuition, a switch from grants to loans, and a rise in
admission standards.”
Fine explained that CUNY students would be hit by increased tuition, larger classes,
fewer class options, and a reduction in student services over the next five years, while the
university’s part-time professorial staff or adjuncts may face cuts to their health-care
benefits—if they have health insurance at all. Telling the audience how higher education
is faring in several other states was Gary Rhoades, professor of higher education at the
University of Arizona and former general secretary of the American Association of
University Professors.
As outspoken as Professor Fine was Frances Fox Piven (Dist. Prof., GC, Political
Science, Sociology), who stressed the parallel between student protesters and the Wall
Street occupiers. Other GC speakers at the conference included Professional Staff
Congress (PSC) president Barbara Bowen (Assoc. Prof., Queens, English); Stephen Brier
(Prof., GC, Urban Education); PSC treasurer Michael Fabricant (Prof., Hunter, Social
Welfare); Clarence Taylor (Prof., Baruch, History); and, from the GC’s American Social
History Project, Andrea Vasquez, a member of the PSC executive council, who
introduced the event. The event was sponsored by the PSC/CUNY, the GC Doctoral
Students’ Council, and a wide range of other GC organizations, centers, and doctoral
programs. For more information, visit: http://defendingpublichighereducation
—Rachel Ramírez
Speaking Up for Minority Languages
Virtually every country in the world is multilingual, declared Robert Lane Greene,
author of You Are What You Speak and moderator of an October 24 roundtable
discussion on “Language Policies: Why Do They Matter?” Yet, he went on to say, some
languages that have official status somewhere in the world—such as Welsh, Catalan,
Basque, Flemish, and Québec French—must continuously fight to remain relevant.
With that, Greene introduced five panelists eager to describe the challenges facing
these “at risk” tongues. Xabier Zabaltza, a linguistic policy adviser to the Basque
government, spoke of the Basque people’s uphill battle for “official bilingualism” in the
Basque country of northeastern Spain and southwestern France. Dr. Maite Puigdevall
Serralvo, associate professor of Catalan philology at the Open University of Catalonia,
voiced her frustration that, while Catalan is the official language of Andorra and a coofficial language in Catalonia, “it is not compulsory for businesses to provide services in
Catalan, so the legal framework, in real terms, does not guarantee our rights.”
Matthias Storme, appointee to the Council of Europe’s Commission on the
Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, explained the
complexities of language policies in Belgium, where four language areas are stipulated
by the country’s constitution. The Flemish, even in their own municipality, find
themselves “squeezed between English, French, and German speakers,” Storme
lamented, because one in five residents is of foreign origin. “We just want to be
recognized as having equal rights in a country where we’re the majority,” he said. Guy
Dumas, associate deputy minister responsible for the application of language policy for
(L. to r.) Xabier Zabaltza, linguistic policy adviser, Basque Country; Maite Puigdevall Serralvo, expert in
Catalan philology, Open University of Catalonia; panel moderator Robert Lane Greene, journalist and author;
Matthias E. Storme, Flemish government appointee to the Belgian Commission on the Framework
Convention for the Protection of National Minorities; Guy Dumas, Québec government expert on language
policy; and Erin Boon, expert on the story of the Welsh language
José del Valle
the Québec government, commiserated. French Canadians too must find ways to cope
in a region where citizens in a neighboring country speak a dominant language, he said.
Finally, Erin Boon, a Harvard University Ph.D. candidate in the Department of
Celtic Languages and Literatures, shared the story of the Welsh language’s unexpected
revival. “This is an example of a language that faced a dim future and met the
challenge,” she boasted. Though Welsh is not her mother tongue, Boon spoke
passionately about the “largely peaceful” activism that has been vital to the Celtic
language’s restoration. Once people realized how central it was to their identity, she
said, they expanded their efforts to increase its visibility and relevance.
After a discussion among the panelists on the delicate balance between choice in
language use, and the efforts required to reinvigorate a struggling one, Greene
introduced Matilde Roman, Deputy Commissioner/General Counsel of the New York
City’s Mayor Office of Immigrant Affairs. Her office’s role is to ensure that New York’s
immigrant populations are able to access whatever services they need in a city where
more than 180 languages are spoken by people representing 200 countries. “It’s our
duty to make sure people understand what we say to them, and what their rights are,”
she explained.
The event was introduced by José del Valle (Prof., GC, Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian
Literatures and Language, Linguistics), executive officer of the Hispanic and LusoBrazilian program, and the Mercè Rodoreda Professorship. Serving as cosponsors were
the Delegation of the Basque Country in the United States, Delegation of Catalonia,
Flanders House New York, Institut Ramon Llull, Québec Government Office in New
York City, and the Welsh Government in New York. At a reception following the panel,
foods associated with each of these regions were served.
The Girl Who Struck Out Babe Ruth and Other NY Mysteries
Suzanne Wasserman, director, Gotham Center
for New York City History, Stefanie Pintoff,
Lyndsay Faye, and Joseph Wallace
Seventeen-year-old Jackie Mitchell struck out legendary Bronx Bombers Babe Ruth and
Lou Gehrig in front of four thousand fans on April 2, 1931. But her fame as pitcher for
Tennessee’s Chattanooga Lookouts was short-lived. Within three days, Baseball
Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis had suspended all professional baseball
positions held by women players, claiming the sport was “too strenuous” for the female
sex. A story similar to hers can be read in Diamond Ruby (Touchstone, 2010), a
historical mystery by Joseph Wallace, one of three guest speakers at the Gotham Center’s
“Mystery Fiction and New York City History.”
An eighty-year-old photograph of a girl “shaking hands with Babe Ruth, while Lou
Gehrig looked on” provided the spark for his creative imagination. A frequent writer
about baseball, Wallace found the image at Baseball Hall of Fame’s A. Bartlett Giamatti
Research Center in Cooperstown, New York, and an archivist helped him identify the
girl as pitcher Virne Beatrice “Jackie” Mitchell Gilbert, fondly remembered as “the girl
who struck out Babe Ruth.”
Galvanized by the young pitcher’s largely untold story and the injustice done to her,
Wallace decided to pay tribute by modeling his lead character, Ruby Thomas, after
Mitchell and her astonishing career. He sets Diamond Ruby in 1920s New York, when
the city became a mecca for all things baseball after the grand opening of Yankee
stadium in 1923, including baseball sideshows on Coney Island’s boardwalk. In a city
crazy for baseball, Wallace suggested, New Yorkers would have celebrated not only the
sport but also someone of Mitchell’s caliber.
Consulting countless issues of NYC newspapers—the Times, Herald, and Post—and
the city’s many historical archives, Wallace focused his research on women’s roles during
the early days of major league baseball, when there was a “flowering of women’s rights in
New York equal to that of the 1960s.” Within the niche of historical mystery fiction,
Wallace gives his scenario life by bringing together fascinating moments in New York’s
past, from the influenza epidemic of 1918 to the city’s gun battles between rum runners
and New York’s Finest during the Roaring Twenties—and all because of a photograph.
The panel discussion, which took place on September 26, also featured authors Lyndsay
Faye and Edgar Allan Poe Award–winner Stefanie Pintoff, who talked about how they
integrated history into their detective novels, The Gods of Gotham (Amy Einhorn
Books/Putnam, 2012) and Secret of the White Rose (Minotaur Books, 2011), respectively.
—Rachel Ramírez
(Above, l.) Rebecca Jordan-Young moderates a
panel of previous Kessler Award scholars (r., l.
to r.) Esther Newton, Gayle Rubin, and Carole
Conference and “Conversations” Focused on Sex and Gender
Merriam-Webster defines masculinity as “qualities appropriate to or usually associated
with a man.” But what exactly are those qualities? How do they come to be determined?
Such were the questions facing social theorists, psychoanalysts, and academic scholars
of gender and sexuality who gathered at the GC on October 21 and 22 for “Masculinity,
Complex,” a fully booked and live-tweeted event to discuss gender and masculinity from
feminist, queer, and psychoanalytic perspectives.
“Masculinity has finally become a site of inquiry, problematized the way femininity
has been regarded for nearly a century,” said Victoria Pitts-Taylor (Prof., Sociology,
Queens College, GC), director of the Center for the Study of Women and Society,
coordinator of the Women’s Studies Certificate Program at the GC, and a cochair of
“Masculinity, Complex.” “This conference sets out to reflect on the history of
masculinity as it became interlinked with psychoanalytic and cultural discourses.”
Debated during the conference was the relevance of essentialist definitions of
femininity and the repercussions of the 2008 high-profile shooting of Larry King, a
fifteen-year-old gender-nonconforming youth, by a fourteen-year-old classmate in
Oxnard, California. Also featured were transgender performance artist Justin Vivian
Bond, who read from his memoir Tango: My Childhood Backwards and in High Heels
(Feminist Press, 2011), and keynote talks by Judith Butler, author of Undoing Gender,
and Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Kushner, whose 1998 play “Terminating” was also read.
A wide range of sex- and gender-related issues were also up for discussion a few days
later on October 25 when three previous winners of the David R. Kessler Award—given
annually to a scholar who has produced a substantive body of work in the field of
GLBTQ studies—took part in a panel celebrating the award’s twentieth anniversary.
Recalling a time “when sex was becoming a topic different from gender,” American
cultural anthropologist Gayle Rubin joined colleagues Esther Newton and Carole Vance
in Proshansky Auditorium for the first of a series of “Kessler Conversations,” sponsored
by CLAGS (Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies) and moderated by CLAGS board
member Rebecca Jordan-Young.
“We’re marking twenty years since CLAGS founder and first executive director
Martin Duberman brought CLAGS to CUNY,” said Daniel Hurewitz (Asst. Prof.,
Hunter College), a member of the organization’s board of directors, in his introductory
remarks. “Back then our struggle was to have LGBT lives, much less LGBT
“Like the Kessler lectures themselves,” noted Sarah E. Chinn, outgoing CLAGS
executive director, “the Kessler Conversations are not just retrospective or reflections of
the state of the field. Rather, they explore where queer studies is going and perhaps even
introduce their audience to Kessler awardees of the next twenty years.” For information
about upcoming Kessler Conversations, see http://web.gc.cuny.edu/clags/.
—Jackie Glasthal
MEMEAC Marks the Arab-American Novel’s Centennial
The Prophet (1923), by Lebanese American writer Khalil Gibran, was wildly popular, but
it was not the first Arab American work to appear in English. That honor belongs to The
Book of Khalid, published in New York City in October 1911, written by Gibran’s fellow
countryman and colleague Ameen Rihani and illustrated by Gibran. The hundredth
anniversary of the book’s publication was celebrated at two events sponsored by the
Middle East and Middle Eastern American Center (MEMEAC) on October 27.
First was a talk by Roger Allen, author of The Arabic Novel: An Historical and Critical
Introduction, who headed the celebration. Until his retirement, Allen held the oldest
professorial post in Arabic (as a separate language in its own right) in the United States,
at the University of Pennsylvania. He focused his remarks on the complexities involved
in making a transition from “the intellectual and literary values of one cultural system to
another.” This is particularly relevant to The Book of Khalid, he said, which is semiautobiographical, involving two Arab boys who immigrate to New York City at the turn
of the last century. After exposure to the New York artistic and cultural environment of
the period, the two return to Lebanon, where, inspired by their New York experiences,
they transform into political and social revolutionaries and come into conflict with the
ruling Ottoman Empire. Allen quoted a line from Khalid’s novel that emphasizes the
author’s message: “No two opposing elements meet and fuse without both losing their
original identity.”
Allen’s talk was followed by the second MEMEAC event, a full-day conference in the
GC’s Martin E. Segal Theatre about the book and its author, who was known not only
for his writings, but also for being the chief Arab American public intellectual in New
York in the early twentieth century. Rihani dedicated his life to teaching Americans
about Arab history and culture and “was a veritable Renaissance man,” said Allen, “a
man of many parts: traveler, translator, historian, commentator, and more.”
Both events were held in partnership with the New York Public Library and Project
Khalid, a centennial campaign for The Book of Khalid conducted by the Ameen Rihani
Institute. They were part of a larger series of programs being held throughout the book’s
100th anniversary year in the United States, Europe, and the Arab world. For
information about other events being held in conjunction with the anniversary, see
http://projectkhalid.org/. For more about MEMEAC and its programs, go to
—Jackie Glasthal
Hilary Spurling Tells How Biographers Probe the
“Irreducible Mystery at the Core of Each Human Being”
Hilary Spurling
British biographer Hilary Spurling, Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Fellow
of the Royal Society of Literature, and founder of the Royal Literary Society’s Writers
Fellowship scheme, provided an illuminating view of the difficulties of the biographer’s task
at the Leon Levy Center for Biography’s fourth annual lecture on September 21.
After opening remarks by Brenda Wineapple, former director for the Leon Levy Center,
President William Kelly noted how Spurling’s presence continued the Center’s tradition of
bringing to the GC community the world’s most eminent biographers, from Robert A.
Caro to Stacy Schiff and Ron Chernow.
A poised Spurling began her lecture with a poignant adage for biographers and writers
alike: “Truth lies unspoken and buried, consciously or not, beneath layers . . . it takes time
and effort to drag it slowly towards the light.”
She spoke of her beginnings as a “naïve” biographer who took on as her formidable first
subject the English writer Ivy Compton-Burnett (1884–1969). “She was full of secrets,”
said Spurling. “She left absolutely no papers, she kept no diary, she wrote no memoirs, she
confided in absolutely nobody.”
Despite having few primary documents, Spurling pressed onward, meeting with
Burnett’s closest friends and two surviving sisters, among others, hearing a “good deal of
gossip” over tea. One of the keys to her subject’s novels, she learned, was that she lost
four siblings—to illness, war, and suicide—during World War I, and “wanted to die.” It
is no wonder, Spurling suggested, that Compton-Burnett focused on families in her
Spurling’s success with Ivy When Young: The Early Life of Ivy Compton-Burnett 1884–
1919 (Littlehampton Book Services Ltd., 1975) inspired her to undertake biographies of
Henri Matisse—which took her fifteen years—Sonia Orwell, Paul Scott, and Pearl Buck,
winning the 2011 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Burying the Bones: Pearl Buck in
Because of her fine-tuned ear and penchant for uncovering clues from times long
past, Spurling has become not just an award-winning writer but a scrupulous detective,
whose work goes beyond chronicling documents and delves into the “irreducible
mystery” that is at “the core of each human being.” This, said Spurling, is “what gives
biography an edge.”
—Rachel Ramírez
Biographers of Fonda and Vonnegut Talk with Gary Giddins
Patricia Bosworth
Charles J. Shields
What does actress, political activist, and fitness guru Jane Fonda have in common with
the author Kurt Vonnegut? On the surface perhaps not much, acknowledged GC
Distinguished Lecturer Gary Giddins, acting executive director of the Leon Levy Center
for Biography. Yet, he was quick to add, there are notable parallels. “Both were popular
in the 1960s, both are associated with the counterculture, and both had parents who
committed suicide,” he said.
Giddins made these observations while moderating a December 7 biography
center–sponsored discussion with biographers Patricia Bosworth and Charles J. Shields
about the problems and pleasures of writing about contemporary figures. Bosworth,
whose most recent book is Jane Fonda: The Private Life of a Public Woman, has also
chronicled the life of Diane Arbus, Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, and her own
father, Bartley C. Crum, one of the six attorneys who defended the so-called
“Hollywood Ten” at the start of the Cold War; while Shields, the best-selling author of
Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, is now receiving accolades for his newest work,
And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life.
Emerging out of the discussion were not only interesting tidbits about their subjects’
lives, but also insight into how and why each was selected. Bosworth’s connection with
Fonda harkened back to their days together at the Actors Studio in the 1960s, she said,
just about the same time that Shields was reading Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five as a
draft-eligible college student. “That book embodied the confusion a lot of us were
feeling about the war,” he remembered. “I wanted to get to know the author behind that
Letting down their own guard was the first step toward winning their subjects’ trust,
the biographers agreed. For Bosworth that meant presenting Fonda with a copy of her
memoir Anything Your Little Heart Desires, recounting the tragic suicides of her own
father and brother. “We never discussed it again,” recalled Bosworth, “but it relaxed
both of us in a way.”
Shields, on the other hand, was still in the process of “punching through Vonnegut’s
narrative—his own view of how his life had gone” when the author died after suffering
brain injuries from a bad fall. Shields was devastated. “I couldn’t work after that for a
while,” he admitted. “I had lost my friend and partner.”
To complete the biography, Shields found himself relying heavily on a collection of
letters written to and from Vonnegut that fortuitously turned up. “I put them in
chronological order,” Shields told his listeners, “and they became the spine of the book.”
Later, however, Shields was forced to “go back in and reconfigure” his writing after
Vonnegut’s estate denied him permission to quote from those missives, an ironic turn of
events given Shields’ final appraisal of his subject. “My premise is that he feared
intimacy,” Shields concluded. “That’s what happens when your mother kills herself—
and on Mother’s Day, no less.”
—Jackie Glasthal
Gail Levin Gives Lee Krasner Her Due as Artist and Wife
Gail Levin
“I was extremely blessed to have her as a mentor at what, for me, was a tender age,”
acknowledged Gail Levin (Dist. Prof., Baruch, Art History). She was speaking at an
illustrated talk titled “Lee Krasner: Art and Nature,” held in the GC’s Martin E. Segal
Theatre on October 11, celebrating Levin’s recently published Lee Krasner: A Biography.
Levin first became acquainted with the work of the artist as a graduate student in
1971. But it was not until the late 1970s, while cocurating a major show at the Whitney
Museum of American Art on the formative years of abstract expressionism, that Levin
really got to know Krasner, who was then best known as Jackson Pollock’s widow.
As both Levin’s talk and her biography attest, Krasner did much more in her life than
champion the work of her troubled yet talented legendary husband. Levin adeptly
proves that she was a “first-generation abstract expressionist” in her own right, who not
only contributed significantly to this artistic movement, but also influenced the work of
her consort, much in the way he influenced her work.
Krasner had always been comfortable working from nature, emphasized Levin,
displaying a 1929 Self-Portrait, painted when Krasner was twenty-one, in which she
stands, flower in hand, in front of a leafy green plant in a dark and gray room, a window
behind her hinting at the natural world. Another ambitious self-portrait, made around
the same time, was created by nailing a mirror to a tree, and then using oil paints to
capture what was reflected: herself, with trees in the background. It was this piece, said
Levin, that helped Krasner qualify for a coveted seat in a life class at the National
Academy of Design. “Her self-portraits made it clear that her subject was herself—as
much a part of nature as anything else,” Levin noted.
To Levin, much of Krasner’s influence on her husband’s paintings was also naturerelated. At her urging, said Levin, the two moved out to Long Island where they
gardened, dug clams, and took long walks together. It was also there that Pollock created
many of his paintings that reference the constellations. Krasner once even confided in
Levin that “the only possible influence” she might have had on Pollock was to bring to
him an awareness of Henri Matisse—the French artist known for his use of vibrant
colors and paintings of nature scenes.
With the hundredth anniversary of Pollock’s birth coming up in 2012, said Levin, “I
felt it was Krasner’s time. This is much more than the story of Pollock—as important as
he was in her art and life.”
—Jackie Glasthal
Student News
Jackie Austin (Psychology) received NSF funding for her dissertation proposal titled
“Evaluating the Influence of Daubert’s Cross-examination Safeguard on Jurors’,
Attorneys’, and Judges’ Judgments about Scientific Evidence.”
Roberto Bongiovanni (Classics) will have his piece “P.Duk.inv. 4R: Homer, Iliad
22.111-149 with Marginalia” published in the 2012 issue of Zeitschrift für Papyrologie
und Epigraphik (Journal for Papyrology and Epigraphy).
Emyr Dakin (Classics) presented “Classic Villains” at a Princeton Graduate
Conference on Longus’ Daphnis and Chloes. He was also the recipient of a travel grant,
awarded by CAAS, to attend the Classical Association of the Atlantic States conference
this October.
Michael Goyette (Classics) was awarded an Athens Summer Scholarship through the
New York Classical Club to study at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens,
Greece. He also received an Eileen Barbara Costas Contes Memorial Prize for Teaching,
awarded by Brooklyn College’s Classics Department to an instructor for exceptional
pedagogy and departmental service. Last year, Goyette published “Ptolemy II
Philadelphus and the Dionysiac Model of Political Authority” in the Journal of Ancient
Egyptian Interconnections (March 2010). He presented papers at three conferences this
year: “The Art of the Insult: Catullus, Eminem, and the Pedagogy of Classics” at
Brooklyn College, and both “Homer’s Odyssey and Apuleius’ Metamorphoses as Nostoi
of Self and Identity” and “Nostos: War, the Odyssey, and Narratives of Return” at the
University of South Carolina.
Monica Harte (Music), along with the Remarkable Theatre Brigade (RTB),
presented Opera Shorts at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall on November 4. The
production featured ten-minute operas. RTB is a performing arts group that produces
new music works from various disciplines. Harte serves as the company’s general
Tristan Husby (Classics) presented a paper on Delphi and non-Greek votive offerings
at a conference on religion in antiquity titled “Encountering the Divine” at the
University of Reading, England.
Sarah Ruth Jacobs (English) published “The Graduate Student as Entrepreneur” in
the Chronicle of Higher Education (December 22, 2011), in which she addresses the topic
of how success in the academic market today means stepping outside the traditional
boundaries of doctoral work. To read her article, visit: http://chronicle.com/article/TheGraduate-Student-as/129903/.
Michele Reinlieb (Psychology), working under the mentorship of Joel Sneed (Asst.
Prof., Queens, Psychology), was awarded travel funding from the International
Neuropsychological Society (INS) to present her paper “The Neuropsychological Profile
of MRI-defined Vascular Depression” at the annual INS meeting in February 2012 in
David Starr (Classics) took first place in the spring 2011 NY Classics Club Greek
reading competition.
Alan Sumler (Classics) published “A Catalogue of Shoes: Puns in Herodas Mime 7”
in the 2010 summer issue of Classical World. He gave a presentation, titled “Comic First
Inventions,” at “Ancient Aitia: Explaining Matter between Belief and Knowledge,”
NYU’s 2011 Classics Graduate Student Conference.
Alissa Vaillancourt (Classics) gave a talk on “Epigram, Reader, and Immortal Frame”
at Knox College in April. She also presented a paper, “Understanding the Ivy of
Leonidas of Tarentum,” at the 2011 annual meeting of the American Philological
Association’s Hellenistic poetry panel.
Maura Williams (Classics) was awarded the Glen Knudsvig Memorial Scholarship to
attend the American Classical League Institute this past June.
David Zimmerman (Psychology) received NSF funding for his dissertation proposal
titled “Judges’ and Attorneys’ Judgments of the Extent to which Jurors have been
Prejudiced by Pretrial Publicity.”
Documenting the Grim Lives of Romania’s TB Patients
Jonathan Stillo is a doctoral candidate and medical anthropologist whose dissertation
research, which began in 2006, took him to Romania, where he lives among and
documents the lives of chronic tuberculosis (TB) patients, eating the same food and
walking the same cheerless corridors.
Jonathan Stillo
Drawn to Romania’s “fairytale landscapes, castles, and some of the last truly
untouched wilderness in Europe” as a 2001 undergraduate member of a Fulbright-Hays
Group Projects Abroad trip, it was not until he was a doctoral student that Romania’s
high rate of TB—by far the highest in the European Union—and its economically
inefficient treatment facilities came to his attention and provided motivation and subject
matter for his dissertation: “‘Magic Mountains’ in Romania: Citizenship, Poverty and
the New Role of Tuberculosis Sanatoria,” a title inspired by Thomas Mann’s classic novel
about a protagonist’s prolonged stay in a sanatorium.
Various grants from the U.S. Department of Education’s Fulbright-Hays program,
the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, IREX (the
International Research and Exchange Board), and the Romanian Cultural Institute have
facilitated his five years of research. He also received $10,000 as winner of the GC’s
Randolph Braham Dissertation Fellowship competition.
In addition to his research, Stillo serves as liaison between Romania’s National TB
Program and the handful of struggling nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that
work with TB patients—particularly the twenty percent with chronic conditions.
Overwhelmingly poor, they “tend to have multiple social and medical problems, of
which TB is only one,” explains Stillo. “They begin with normal cases of nonresistant
TB that could be easily and cheaply treated, but if it’s treated without regard to these
other problems, they often relapse.”
Stillo has traveled across Romania by bus, visiting TB hospitals, dispensaries, and
sanatoria. Everywhere he goes, he hears yet more stories he feels need to be told. Yet,
laments Stillo, there is little mention of the disease on Romania’s Ministry of Health web
“Romania should not need anthropologists to catalog and document the causes of
people’s TB-based suffering,” asserts Stillo, who gets tested regularly and takes other
precautions, given the population he works with. “I want to see Romania achieve a
public health standard that does not require NGOs to work on behalf of TB patients. I
want to contribute to minimizing the occurrence of TB-related preventable death.”
Stillo is working with adviser Ida Susser (Prof., Hunter, Anthropology, Public Health)
and plans to defend his dissertation in September 2013. “Jonathan’s combined
understanding of medical anthropology and the importance of public health make what
he is doing a phenomenal piece of work,” she avowed.
—Jackie Glasthal
Writers’ Institute Readings at the Center for Fiction
André Aciman
On a blustery November night, a crowd of friends, agents, and editors packed the
elegant reading room at the Center for Fiction to hear fourteen writers from the GC’s
Writers’ Institute (WI) read from their works. Several of the authors—with professional
careers as journalists, academics, and television producers—had never before read their
writing aloud to an invited audience.
“It’s exhilarating to hear the way a story unfolds in spoken voice,” said Maggie Hill,
who came to support her fellow WI colleagues, “especially a story you’ve heard evolve
through class workshops.”
WI’s fiction program is the only one of its kind, taught not by authors, in traditional
MFA fashion, but by New York’s top publishers and magazine editors. Last year’s class,
the fiction program’s inaugural, included on its faculty New Yorker fiction editor
Deborah Treisman and John Freeman, editor of Granta, which will publish a story by
WI alumna Judith Chicurel in the February 2012 issue.
“The access is incredible,” said Dan Hernandez, a journalist reading his fiction before
an audience for the first time. “We sit around a conference table and discuss writing
with Jonathan Galassi, the president of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and with Chris Cox,
the fiction editor at Harper’s. It’s what writers dream about. No middleman—just direct
access to the people who decide what’s worthy of being published today and what isn’t.”
The readings clipped along at a brisk pace of seven minutes each, much like speed
dating, with time out for jazz and schmoozing, served up alongside a spread of good
wine, runny cheeses, and fat Mediterranean olives.
“I heard about the reading from a friend and what an amazing surprise!” said Olga
Zilberbourg, an editor visiting from San Francisco. “All the authors reading together
showed the diversity of interests and talents that the Writers’ Institute attracts. I look
forward to seeing submissions to our journal, Narrative magazine.”
Organized by fiction program alumnus Greg D’Alessandro, the reading was the first
in a series that continues in February and May.
Applications for the 2012–13 class of the Writers’ Institute are being accepted
through March 15, 2012. The Writers’ Institute is directed by André Aciman, nonfiction
author, novelist, and executive officer of the Graduate Center’s doctoral program in
comparative literature. For more information: http://writersinstitute.gc.cuny.edu/.
In Memoriam
Florence J. Bloch, who served generations of Graduate Center doctoral students as
director of financial aid from 1972 to her retirement in 1981, died on October 4, 2011.
A Hunter alumna, B.A. and M.A., before coming to the Graduate Center in 1965, she
served as secretary of Hunter’s classics department from1936 to 1962 while also acting as
lecturer in Latin from 1942 to 1962. Among other academic distinctions Ms. Bloch was
a founding member and inductee into the Hunter College Hall of Fame (1972) and
received the President’s Medal from the CUNY Graduate Center (1981). She was a
member of Eta Sigma Phi (National Honorary Classics Society) and Sigma Epsilon Phi
(National Honorary German Society). Contributions in her memory may be made to
the Graduate Center Foundation, 365 Fifth Avenue, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10016.
Gerald M. Friedman, distinguished professor emeritus of earth and environmental
sciences at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, died on November 29, 2011.
After a long and productive career involving appointments at Rensselaer Polytechnic
Institute, the University of Cincinnati, and Amoco Petroleum Corporation, Friedman
accepted an appointment at CUNY in 1985 and mentored more than fifteen CUNY
doctoral students before he retired in 2004. He has received the highest honors in the
field of sedimentary geology, including the Twenhofel Medal of the Society for
Sedimentary Geology and the Sidney Power’s Medal of the American Association of
Petroleum Geologists. The Ph.D. Program in Earth and Environmental Sciences
honored Professor Friedman with its Distinguished Service Medal in 2006.
Allen Mandelbaum, who taught English and comparative literature at the Graduate
Center from 1966 to 1986 and served as executive officer of the Ph.D. Program in
English from 1972 to 1980, died on October 27, 2011. Renowned as a translator of
Dante, he became the first American, and the first translator, to receive the Gold Medal
of Honor from the city of Florence, Italy, which conferred the award for his Divine
Comedy in 2000, the 735th anniversary of Dante’s birth. Also highly regarded are
Mandelbaum’s translation of Virgil’s Aeneid, for which he received the National Book
Award in 1973, and his translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, a Pulitzer Prize finalist in
poetry in 1994. In addition, Mandelbaum received Italy’s National Award for Verse
Translation from the Presidenza del Consiglio in 1998, the Presidential Prize of the
President of Italy in 2003, and Italy’s highest award, the Presidential Cross of the Order
of the Star of Italian Solidarity, in 2004. He also published several volumes of his own
poetry, and was the first American to earn the title of Professore Ordinario per Chiara
Fama, teaching at the University of Torino for five years. For GC students’ memories of
this beloved teacher, translator, poet, scholar, and mentor, see http://www.gcadvocate.com/
Holiday Party 2011
Celebrating fifty years of
the Graduate Center.
Holiday Party 2011
365 Fifth is published by the Office of Public Affairs and Publications.
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016-4309
Jane House, Editor
Barry Disman, Director of Graphic Design
Jennie Kaufman, Associate Editor
Tim Ellis, Jackie Glasthal, Ira Mothner, Rachel Ramírez, Contributing Writers
Donald Cherry, Alex Irklievski, Graphic Designers
Elizabeth Fraser, Editorial Support
Submissions should be faxed or emailed to:
Office of Public Affairs and Publications
Email: [email protected]
Fax: 212. 817. 1610